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On Why Las Vegas Demands a Second Look

  in  USA
I was last in the United States back in 1998 - visiting the east coast - New York, Atlantic City and Philadelphia. Fourteen years later, I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas at the behest of the construction company I worked for. Despite the fact that my company were paying for everything, I was very pleasantly surprised at how affordable accommodation and dining out was in Las Vegas. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I was visiting in July (the city's "low season") that made things cheaper, coupled with the money being frittered away on the gambling tables. Whatever the reason, it really made me feel like I want to visit there again, because I had a wonderful time there going to shows, to the bars, and yes, having a little gamble too (you can't go to Vegas and NOT gamble). Since returning home, I've visited many websites to see what kind of hotel deals I can get - because I really do want to get back there for a second look.

Yes, you can spend a lot in Vegas if you want to, and you can certainly LOSE a lot of money in the casinos of course. I suspect - like many others - that much of the food, accommodation and entertainment in the city is largely subsidized by unsuccessful gamblers as much as it is by general tourism. However, the balance works because those that want to gamble seriously do so under their own volition. There's PLENTY of other things to do and see in Vegas apart from gamble of course. In my opinion, Las Vegas has the best musicals and entertainment shows that I've seen in any city and it's worth visiting just to see the shows alone.

Prague: I Was Totally Smittened By the Place

  in  Europe
Prague - one of those cities that had escaped my forays into Europe in the 1990s when I was in my 20s and both working and travelling around Europe during much of this decade. In fact, it got me reflecting - just HOW is it I've never been to Prague up until 2012? Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, even Bratislava - all part of my impressive list of experiences, except perhaps the most obvious capital in that region.

Until now.

Luckily my company was invited to attend a conference in Prague, and I was the delegate to attend. There are a number of popular business venues in Prague, and I was quick to realise just how popular this city was for holding such international conferences. The agenda of our meeting was to discuss our ordering strategy for 2013 given the Euro woes. Should we invest more into our new Thailand office, a branch completely untainted by the unfolding Eurozone crisis? This was to be a crucial meeting, and I had to be really careful what I proposed, because there would be jobs in my UK office on the line (a country that despite having its own currency, is still embroiled in the Euro problems) - and yet, we HAD to find a solution for 2013.

Despite our business worries, I was determined to have a good time in Prague of course. Just from its sheer popularity as a destination for UK travellers, I knew there is wide range of entertainment possibilities to be discovered in this great city, and planned to clear a whole day for sight-seeing and generally soaking up the atmosphere of the old capital.

Well, I just got back from my trip. We made our business plans, and I got to see as much of the city as I could in 24 hours. I fell in love with the place, and my 24 hour romance has smittened me. I have already made a plan to spend a full week in Prague to truly appreciate this wonderful city that somehow escaped all my travel itineraries up to now.

My Favourite Part of the UK: Buxton

  in  United Kingdom
I've always loved going to the Peak District in England, particularly Buxton. The people are friendly, the scenery absolutely stunning, and the cost of the holiday always reasonable. Not only that, but it's a safe, clean country. I always hire a car when I'm over there, as that's very affordable. I always do a search for Cheap UK Car Hire at to ensure I get the best deals for car hire. It's pretty simple to get a quote - just enter your starting point and date, and finishing location and date - and browse the cars on offer.

But back to Buxton, what a lovely Peak District town. The opera house is a great place to visit in the evening after a long day out on the hills taking in the fresh air and scenery. The pubs on the market square are a real slice of northern English life (quite exotic for me since I'm from Texas!) and give you an authentic insight into everyday life.

Even if you tire of Buxton, Chatsworth House isn't far away, nor Bakewell or the Hope Valley. There's lots to see and do in and around Buxton.

Berlin: What a Refreshing Experience

  in  Europe
One of the best things about travelling is experiencing different cultures - and that often means experiencing different values and ways of life too - there's no better way to expand your own views than to immerse yourself in diverse cultures. On a recent trip to Berlin, I was reminded of the differences between my home country (UK) and Germany. One example: escort agencies. In Germany, paid companionship is fully accepted by German society and it's nothing to be ashamed of. I did check out one such agency - Escort Berlin - and I was glad of the company I paid for, who became my de facto guide to Berlin! In the UK, it's typical that us Brits feel rather ashamed to pay for anything when it comes to human relationships. I found the German attitude to be very refreshing and liberating.

In general, I found the local Berliners to be very friendly and rather urbane English is well spoken throughout the city, and I had the usual feeling of being ashamed at my poor German language skills. Their love of the arts is manifest throughout the city - in its architecture, museums, coffee shops, parks. I had the feeling of being amongst a population who were autodidacts - a thrist for knowledge and learning. I did the usual tourist things - the Brandenberg Gate, the Olympic Stadium, Kunsthaus Tacheles etc - but for me it's the PEOPLE that are the fondest memory I have of Berlin - friendly, engaging, intelligent, erudite. I'll certainly be going back to Berlin again.

On Why I Rented an Apartment In Rome Instead of Booked a Hotel

  in  Europe
I love travelling around Europe when I have the time in fact I do a LOT of travelling for both work and pleasure. However, a creeping annoyance was infesting my mind more and more with each journey I took. I'd certainly enjoyed the destinations - each and everyone has something unique to offer. But there was something about the formality, the convention, the orthodoxy of staying in a hotel that would make me feel like each trip had a similarity to each other. I grew tired of the locations of the hotels, the politeness (yes!) of the staff - I became jaded by being seen as a tourist or business traveller all the time. I wanted to see these places in a more informal, natural way.

On a trip to Rome, I found my answer - to rent an apartment. I know what you're thinking - you don't want to stay for months, just a couple of days. You can STILL rent certain apartments in Rome on a daily basis! What's more, they generally cost 50% less than a hotel of the same quality, but have twice the size too! I rented one right in the old center as well. I'd been to Rome three times before and each time stayed at a hotel. It was on this fourth trip that I really felt I saw Rome without all the protocols and formalities that tourists can seemingly never escape. It was wonderful. If you're interested in renting an apartment in Rome, there's more info here.

On my next trip to wherever, I'll be looking at short-stay apartments, not hotels - that's for sure!

The Most Magical Place in the World

  in  USA
I was 12 years old, and it was Christmas time. The snow had been falling in Michigan for what seemed like forever. I grew up there, so I was practically used to it, but after some time, it does get old. Christmas morning finally rolled around, and my siblings and I anxiously awaited all of our gifts. Every year, we each get one "big gift". When everything was gone, we noticed there was no big gift. My parents walked away and came back with suit cases. I remember thinking, "Oh great, just what every kid wants - a bunch of luggage!" As we opened them up, a picture of Cinderella's castle was taped inside, along with a note that read, "WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!". Imagine my surprise! We waited for May to roll around, and when it finally did, I couldn't believe it. I finally understood what people meant when they said what a magical place it was. I could feel the happiness all around me. It was almost overwhelming. For a twelve year old little girl to understand and recognize the goodness and amazement that a place had to offer still shocks me when I think back to that week we spent there. Our last night there, we spent in the park watching the annual parade. There were fireworks, Disney characters, floats - It was nothing but pure magic. I swear I could have had tears in my eyes. The funny thing is, though - I know I wasn't the only one who was feeling it. You could see it on the faces of every other boy and girl who had finally been given the chance to experience the wonder that Walt Disney so graciously intended to create. I realize that I keep repeating the world magical, but honestly, it is the best way to describe the holiday my family and I took there. It was nothing short of unforgettable.

My Greatest Holiday Experience in Florida

  in  USA
One year, my family and I went on a long trip down south! It was a three week vacation which would include Christmas and New Years. We live in Michigan, so the drive to Florida felt like it took forever. We stopped in Atlanta, Georgia to visit with my Uncle. It was fun and it was also a nice break from driving. We kept going down to Orlando. We stopped in at Disney and had so much fun! We went to Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Blizzard Beach. I really enjoyed all of the days we spent at Disney. We also went to see my dadís brother in Tampa Bay. We got to visit with him and my aunt and my two cousins.

Even though it was December, we were outside playing baseball. We spent Christmas day in our hotel. We had brought some presents with us to share, and we had a cozy experience. We were all together and sharing a fun moment. We still kept up our tradition of reading the story of Jesus birth on Christmas. It was great to be in a new place, but still be able to have Christmas our way. It was weird to not have a white Christmas, but it was nice being so warm on Christmas day! One of my favorite parts of the trip, though, was New Years Eve. New Years is one of my favorite holidays because everyone gathers together to celebrate and have a lot of fun. This New Yearís, we could not have any friends over, though. Instead, we watched a marathon of the Three Stooges! I still remember my family laying on the hotel beds and laughing so hard! We laughed again and again as the New Year was arriving. That will forever be one of my favorite moments with my family.

The Independence Day that I Spent in South Korea

  in  Far East
I am American and I really enjoy Independence Day. I do not necessarily enjoy the holiday for what it celebrates instead, I enjoy the holiday because I almost always go to the beach to visit my family, who I don't get to see very often. The holiday has a lot of sentimental meaning for me. In the afternoon, my family and all the neighbors gather for a big meal, usually a low-country boil. My favorite part of the meal is dessert, which is usually cookies, pies, and cakes of Cool Whip and berries, all made to look like the American flag. After we eat, we head over to another neighbor's house along the Intercoastal Waterway and watch all of the fireworks display put on by the surrounding towns.

However, a few years ago I skipped the trip to the beach and decided to visit my best friend, who was studying abroad in South Korea. I flew to visit her a few days before Independence Day and we traveled around Seoul, visiting the zoo, a Buddhist temple, museums, shopping centersand eating lots of great food. At first, I had felt guilty about not visiting my family, but I really enjoyed myself and do not regret taking the trip. I flew out of Seoul and began the long series of layovers and connections back home. I was flying back into my city on the evening of the Fourth of July. As the plane descended for its landing, I could see fireworks all over the placeit was a beautiful sight that I doubt I will ever see again. I appreciated this spectacular view, which I would not have seen if I had not taken the trip to Seoul.

Since that summer, I have spent several more Independence Days at the beach. I always enjoy the company, the food, and the fireworks. I am looking forward to many more of my favourite holidays.

The Way We Passed the Time on Road Trips in the Old Days

  in  USA
The best family vacation that I ever had was going on a road trip to Myrtle Beach. The trip was for 2 weeks during March break from school. It was my brother, mum, dad and I. this trip was probly about 20 years ago so it was before the time of things like portable video games and being able to watch movies in the back seat. S

So to pass the many hours of travel my brother and I had to entertain ourselves and each other. My mum would set the back set up so that it was out own little playroom. She would pack everything up in the feet well so that we had a big level area to play in. We would play cards, play i-spy, board games. When it got to the point that we were at each otherís throat we would be sent back to out own side of the seat and would be forced to either nap or read by ourselves until we could be civil to each other again. I can remember us playing for quite sometime when we turned the back seat into a space ship and travelled around the earth.

Another time we turned it into a kitchen and had a bake off. But the thing that I remember the most and that gave us many, many, many hours of enjoyment was using each others faces as silly putty and making funny faces. We would see how far we could stretch each others mouth open, see how thin we could make the others eye by pulling on it. We would see how many rolls we could create by smooching their face up with all our mite. We would keep going until one of us called mercy because we had to give our faces a rest.

So while I can remember us having a great time on the beach, us all having a blast on different mini golf courses, laughing lots trying to put the tent up in the rain and having the chance the see a bunch of different states what I remember the most of that trip and what always makes me smile the most is remembering the pain that our faces would be in after a few hours of being in the car and entertaining ourselves in the back.

My Own Accidental Vacation

  in  USA
My husband and I have three kids and 3 jobs between the two of us. With our own business and jobs that do not leave time for vacations, let alone the kids who do not leave us time for a vacation on our own, we have never taken a romantic, relaxing vacation...until now. It seems one man's disaster is another couple's accidental and forced vacation. I'll start the vacation a few hours before the mishap.

While on our way back from a business trip in New York, the GPS in our van malfunctioned. With my husband sleeping in the back, I drove through the heart of Harlem. When he woke up, he was a little more than surprised. Fortunately, we were not harmed in anyway, even though our license plate read GMANS LDY (refer to the term for government agent and you will get it). When we were finally able to get out of New York City, and get the GPS in an almost working condition, we got back on the highway.

But luck would not stay with us. The transmission to the van blew in Waterbury, Connecticut. We ended up being able to pull over at a convenience store called Winzz. This store was owned by an amazingly kind man who let us keep it there for the weekend as we could not get a mechanic to look at it until Monday (it was Friday). We stayed at the Super 8 in Waterbury. The placement of the hotel could not have been better for us. My husband is an incredible singer and spends much of his free time singing karaoke. That night we found that there was a bar, Muskey's Pub, behind the Super 8 that had karaoke on Sunday. My husband also loves food. There were no stores or other entertainment around...but there were 8 restaurants within a quarter mile. With a weekend of my favorite sport (pool), and karaoke, and food, we had an amazing weekend by ourselves. We slept. We ate. We were merry.

If I had a chance for another vacation, I would spend it right there.